On June 25,1944 my big brother, my hero and my idol, was killed in action in WW 2. I was 13 at the time and I became very bitter and angry with the GOD that took my brother from me. I decided at that time to become an atheist. After all, if everyone were atheists there wouldn’t be any reason to hate and kill Jews because there would be no Jews.
I lived in this atheistic condition until I entered medical school in 1961. It was during my freshman year that we had the opportunity to dissect the human body. There were at least a dozen cadavers on tables with 5 students to a table and we all took turns dissecting and identifying the different structures. Once you passed the skin, all the muscles, arteries, veins, nerves, bones, organs, etc. were more or less the same in each body. Our anatomy professor happened to be a devout Seventh Day Adventist. I’ll never forget how he marveled at the miracle that caused a bone in the skull to stop growing so that a tiny nerve could grow from one side of the bone through to the other side.
The following years were filled with discovery of one miracle after another. The amazing physiology and biochemistry that keeps us alive, the incredible brain functions that still remain mysteries today, and the miracle of conception and birth of a living human being to only mention a few. It was this experience that changed me.
I could no longer be an atheist. It was just too much, just too complex and all working together to heal the body after repeated insults and all done without our knowledge or conscious help. So I became spiritual. So spiritual that I believe in everything. That is including miracles, the power of prayer and reincarnation. I believe some power put all living things on earth in an orderly way but there is no way anyone can put a “religious” name on it and claim it for themselves.
When a baby is born, it has no religion. It is not aware of its skin color or station in life, be it rich or poor, or what country it is living in or what language it will speak. We are all the same, more or less, at birth. I feel that is the way we should look at all human beings. We are all basically “people”.
I feel that “religions” are a man-made excuse to explain all we don’t yet understand from the secret of life itself to the creation of the universe. They immediately become divisive, separating people into sects or “clubs”. I would not wear a symbol advertising my religion any more that I would wear a label advertising my sexual preference. It is nobody’s business. If you want to belong to a specific religion and pray all day long, that’s wonderful. I think, however, that religion should be kept to oneself. It should not be anybody’s business. But there is the problem.
There IS a business involved. The religious leaders would be facing unemployment if they lost their “club” members. How many people become religious for the business the club members generate? The promise of salvation in heaven and avoidance of hell is calculated to stir fear in the hearts of the followers and keep them from leaving the club. Just as a good union organizer realizes that without getting a constant flow of new members, the union will dry up and fail, so do religious leaders know that they must constantly strive to bring in new members. It is also a source of money and power for the club leaders. The leaders could do just as much social good if they were psychologists and social workers without hiding behind the façade of organized religion but the money and power would be gone.
I wear a Marlins baseball cap and a Gator “T” shirt because these are clubs I have an interest in wishing well. Of course there may be some risk should I find myself in a confined area surrounded by FSU fans. However, I don’t think the risk would be as high as it would be for a Catholic in the Protestant part of Northern Ireland or for a Jew in Gaza.
Even though I’m not a practicing Jew, I have a tremendous feeling of pride about being a member of the Jewish club. I’ll never forget the first time I stepped off the EL Al plane in Israel. I smiled and felt a peaceful feeling. I was among my own kind and for the first time, not a minority. I was free of the paranoia that had secretly lurked in my psyche that was created by a lifetime of being surrounded by prejudice (both real and imagined). At the University at Tel Aviv, I re-lived the Diaspora. It left me with a feeling of : “Gee, I belong to a helluva club that could survive all the crap that has been piled on us over the centuries.” Every country that took in the Jews prospered and when they chased out the Jews, that country went downhill. The accomplishments of Jews in the world are far greater compared to their numbers, which is another source of pride.
I think you can be a good person, kind to others, helpful to others and respectful of other beliefs without joining a specific club. If you want to be friends with others it should be because you have things in common with them (or maybe you got along with them very well in a past life). Many times, though, if they belong to a different club, you may never have the chance to know them better because the club rules create division. And they have been taught to hate and distrust anyone that doesn’t belong to their club…. And their club, of course, is better than yours.
Fred Srebnick D.O.
4005 Turnstone Ct.
Weston, FL 33331-4022
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